Dean Best

ConAgra completes Ralcorp takeover

By: Dean Best - 30 January 2013 15:39

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A little over two months after US food giant ConAgra Foods struck a deal to buy local private-label rival Ralcorp Holdings, it has sealed its US$6.8bn takeover of the company.

The two groups, major players in the US' fragmented but growing own-label sector, announced the completion of the deal yesterday (29 January).

ConAgra has long been interested in buying Ralcorp - in 2011, it had a number of takeover bids rejected - and the company's management were excited they had finally got their man.

ConAgra CEO Gary Rodkin said: "Today's acquisition of Ralcorp provides us with the right mix to deliver greater value and innovation to our customers and consumers, and sustainable, profitable growth to our shareholders."

The deal means ConAgra has become the largest private-label supplier in the US and the company sees plenty of benefits from the deal. When the transaction was first announced in November, Rodkin said ConAgra's strength in areas like innovation could be one benefit it brings to the table and would allow the company to manage the two sides of the business closely.

However, some have questioned the sector's potential. Last autumn, SymphonyIRI claimed the own-label category in the US had reached a "glass ceiling".

And some on Wall Street have asked whether ConAgra can really compete successfully with new products in Ralcorp's core categories like cereal and snack bars.

It is a deal that has boosted ConAgra's presence in what it deems to be an attractive sector - and there could be more deals to come - but there will be challenges ahead for the company.

Click here for just-food's analysis of the deal, published in November, including an interview with senior ConAgra executive Doug Knudsen.

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